After spending all that time and money on your website, you want people to find it online, right? Duh, you didn’t do all that for nothing.
Most people will find your sweet new website through an online search. Hello, Google, you cute little search engine, you.
How does Google know to include your website in search results?
Google sends a spider called Googlebot to crawl around the web collecting data. Googlebot visits a bunch of different web pages and, if it finds links on those pages, goes and visits those linked pages too.
While it’s adventuring around the web, Googlebot makes a note of new websites and changes to existing websites. It also scans each page and, based on the words it finds, makes a note of what each page is about.
Googlebot comes home and hands over all that data to Google like a good little spider. Google updates its search index with the data. Then, when someone does a search, Google searches its massive index for matching pages and displays the most relevant pages in the search results.
Your website only appears in search results if Google knows it exists.
Googlebot will find your website…eventually. But it could take weeks or months. Screw that! You worked damn hard on your website and you want to see results. Now.
Add Your Website to Google.
Adding your website to Google is as easy as pie (cherry, please). You just need to create and submit an XML Sitemap.
A Sitemap is a list of all the pages on your website. Submitting a Sitemap ensures that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including pages that might not be discovered by Google’s normal crawling process.
It’s like calling Google and saying, “Yo, I made this sweet website. Send that little spider over to check it out so you can include all my website pages in search results.”
How to Generate a WordPress Sitemap
I use the Yoast SEO plugin to generate my Sitemaps. It helps you optimize your website for search engines, generates your Sitemap and submits it to Google. Any time you make changes to your website, the plugin will update your Sitemap and tell Google.
Another option is to use an XML Sitemap generator. The downside is that you’ll need to manually submit the Sitemap to Google. You’ll also need to manually generate and resubmit the Sitemap every time you make changes to your website.
How to Submit a Sitemap to Google with the Yoast SEO Plugin
- Sign up for Google Search Console (previously called Webmaster Tools).
- Click ‘Add a Site’.
- Enter your website’s URL and click ‘Continue’.
- Click the ‘Alternate methods’ tab.
- Select ‘HTML tag’.
- Copy the meta tag value. This is what appears in quotation marks after ‘content=’. Do not copy the quotation marks, just the value within them.
- Open your WordPress Dashboard in a new tab. Leave the Google Search Console page open.
- Click ‘SEO’ in the left navigation menu to go to the WordPress SEO plugin settings.
- Click the ‘Webmaster Tools’ tab.
- Paste the meta tag value into the ‘Google Search Console’ field.
- Click ‘Save Changes’.
- Go back to Google Search Console and click ‘Verify’.
- You’ll see a message saying that you successfully verified your ownership. Click ‘Continue’.
- Click ‘Sitemaps’.
- Click ‘Add/Test Sitemap’.
- Enter sitemap_index.xml in the field provided.
- Click ‘Submit Sitemap’.
Now Google knows it needs to send Googlebot to crawl and index your website. It’ll take a few days for Google to do its thing, but it will happen A LOT faster because you gave Google a heads up.